Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House
Thursday, May 29, 2003

Mets 5, Phillies 0

One day after the Mets got some fine pitching performances at the minor league level (see below) and some not-so-fine ones at the major league level, the big-leaguers got back on track as Steve Trachsel went up against the Phillies' ace and outpitched him. The Mets got to Kevin Millwood early, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first inning thanks to three doubles. The top of the lineup looked downright ugly on paper, but Roger Cedeno doubled to lead off the game, and Rey Sanchez hit one of his own to drive in Cedeno. Sanchez was out at third when Ty Wigginton hit into a fielder's choice, but Jeromy Burnitz doubled deep to left center to bring in Wigginton.

In the sixth inning, it was more doubles, as Cliff Floyd made it to second only to score on Tony Clark's two-bagger.

Meanwhile, Trachsel was scattering five hits and three walks over six and two-thirds innings while striking out five. In the seventh he got himself into a bases loaded jam with two outs, but Graeme Lloyd came in to get the third out and preserve the shutout. Lloyd pitched the eighth as well and just gave up one hit while striking out one.

In the top of the eighth, the Mets tacked on two more runs when Floyd doubled to bring home Sanchez, who had walked, and Wigginton, who had singled. Spots two, three and four in the lineup came through big for the Mets tonight, as Sanchez, Wigginton and Floyd each had two hits and the three of them scored three runs and drove in four. Overall, the Mets had five doubles on the night, and also went two of three in stolen base attemps, as Wigginton and, shockingly, Cedeno were successful, while Burnitz was thrown out.

In the ninth, Art Howe brought in Armando Benitez in a pressure-free situation and he struck out the side.

Tomorrow, the Braves come to town for a weekend series leading the Mets by twelve games, but this game is bigger than all that. It's the first head to head meeting of Tom Glavine (5-4, 4.05) and his former long-time teammate Greg Maddux (3-5, 4.99). Last weekend in Atlanta, Glavine got rocked on Saturday while Maddux shut the Mets down on Sunday. Here's hoping the Mets can turn those fortunes around in the friendly confines of Shea Stadium.

St. Lucie Mets throw second no-hitter of the season

This time it was Tyler Yates and Chad Elliot combining to hold the Palm Beach Cardinals hitless over seven innings.

In other Mets minor league pitching news, Scott Kazmir had his longest outing of the season yesteday, going six innings for Capital City, striking out six, walking none and giving up one run on three hits. Kazmir is 0-1 with a 2.73 ERA, although his record is pretty meaningless given that he's not been allowed to pitch the five innings necessary to earn a win until yesterday. The important stats are that he's struck out 42 and walked 15 in just 29.2 innings.

And finally, Phil Seibel threw six scoreless innings for Binghamton yesterday. Seibel gave up five hits while striking out eight and walking just one. He's now struck out 20 in his last 20 innings and not allowed an earned run over the same span.

If you're interested in getting daily updates on the performance of prospects around the minor leagues in your e-mail, I urge you to head over to The Prospect Report and sign up. I've been getting it for a few weeks now and it really is a great source of info on the minors.

Phillies 11, Mets 3

It's about time the Mets deal with the Pedro Astacio (3-2, 7.36) issue. He's had a few good starts where it looked like he might be valuable this year, but overall he's been wildly inconsistent and sometimes downright awful. I think the best way for them to go would be to try to trade him, but I honestly don't know why anyone would be interested in picking him up at this point. The situation isn't so bad as to warrant thinking about just releasing him, and I don't know how useful he'd be in the bullpen. Perhaps a voluntary trip to the minors is in order. Such a trip worked wonders for Steve Trachsel a couple years back. Maybe Astacio could rediscover how to pitch away from the pressure of starting in the majors.

But really, the biggest reason I want to see the Mets do something with Astacio is that I think it's about time to do something with Aaron Heilman. The 24 year old starter is now 6-2 with a 3.15 ERA at AAA Norfolk. His 65.2 innings pitched lead the International League, and his 50 strikeouts (against 21 walks) are good for fifth in the league. Admittedly, these aren't the kind of blowaway numbers that necessarily demand an immediate callup, but the Mets have a problem in their starting rotation, and now's as good a time as any to get the pending youth movement in full swing. Heilman is one of the guys expected to play a big role in any Met success in the coming years, and of their future stars, he's clearly the one most ready to make the jump to the majors. Jose Reyes has missed some time due to injuries this year and isn't really pouding AAA pitching yet, and the rest of the Mets big deal prospects are still at the lower levels of the minors. But Heilman seems like he's learned about as much as he's going to at AAA, so why not give him a shot? What's he going to do, cost the Mets the division?
Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Mets 4, Phillies 2

The Mets got back to their recent winning ways, and once again did it in large part thanks to a contribution from a part of the team that has been pretty useless in recent years: the outfiled. Right fielder Jeromy Burnitz continued his hot post-injury hitting, going three for four with his sixth home run of the season, and third in four games since returning from the DL. And being driven in on the two-run blast was left fielder Cliff Floyd who had a pair of walks and two hits, including a double, in four plate appearances. And as always, Tsuyoshi Shinjo played excellent defense in center field.

Al Leiter got the win and did so without giving up a run, but he worked hard in doing so. He only pitched six innings and gave up just a pair of hits, but he threw 136 pitches thanks to six walks and eight strikeouts. Graeme Lloyd gave up a run in an inning. David Weathers pitched a scorless two-thirds of an inning, but got himself in a jam from which Armando Benitez had to save him. Of course, Benitez then proceeded to manufacture a jam that he could call his very own in the ninth, giving up a run and loading the bases before finally recording the last out.

Rey Sanchez made his return from the disabled list and promptly went three for four.

Tomorrow, it's the Mets and Phillies again, with Pedro Astacio (3-1, 6.34) taking on Kevin Millwood"> (7-1, 2.84).
joe | 1:43 AM |  0 comments
Monday, May 26, 2003

Braves 3, Mets 1

Now, it's no secret that the "Win" statistic is a pretty inconsistent and inaccurate measure of pitching performance. And this game was a very good example of why. Jae Seo and the undead corpse of Greg Maddux both pitched very well today. Each pitched seven innings, giving up just three hits. Seo didn't give up his first until the fifth inning, but unfortunately it was an Andruw Jones home run that accounted for all of the scoring against him. He struck out two and, as usual, walked none. Maddux didn't give up any runs, and bested Seo by the margin of one strikeout. Both pitched well enough to deserve to see a W next to their name in the next morning's box score.

But in the top of the eighth inning, after Maddux had been lifted, Roberto Hernandez entered the game for the Braves and gave up Jeromy Burnitz's fifth home run of the season, tying the game. Art Howe pinch hit for Seo in attempt to extend the rally, but to no avail and both starters were officially decision-less. David Weathers pitched the bottom of the eighth for the Mets and gave up a pair of runs to put the Braves on top for good, giving Hernandez the dubious Blown Save/Win combination.

So the Mets are now at 3-3 on this important twelve game stretch, although still 5-3 against good teams since Mike Piazza's injury. And this game and series was not without its good signs. First of all, the Mets got solid pitching performances from Seo and Steve Trachsel, which is encouraging for the back of the rotation. Unfortunately, the bullpen continued to struggle and Tom Glavine got roughed up, but both of those are problems which can be corrected. If the back of the rotation continues to pitch well and the top two guys play up to expectations, the Mets can have a solid rotation. And Seo's effectiveness is also a good sign for the future of the Mets' rotation in the years to come. Hopefully he, Aaron Heilman and some of the other youngsters can provide good backup for Glavine in the next few years.

Also encouraging is the play of Burnitz, who seems to have picked up right where he left off offensively before getting injured. He hit a pair of home runs in this series and is now hitting .291/.364/.570. His play in center field seems a risky proposition, but not as much as the guy who was starting there in the beginning of the season. Cliff Floyd had a rough series this weekend, going hitless in the three games, but if he can play somewhere near how he did last week, the Mets should have some nice offensive contributions from two-thirds of their outfield, which would be very welcome. And in general, this Mets team seems more fun to watch than it was a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I'd love to have Piazza's bat in the lineup, but the team seems more solid defensively than it had been, and generally more energetic. Whether the next week brings renewed optimism about this year, or even further emphasis on youth due to trading away some costly veterans, the near future of Mets baseball looks to be a fun time to watch.

The Mets head to Philadelphia on Tuesday for three more with the Phillies.
Friday, May 23, 2003

Mets 6, Braves 5

Yeah, this picture isn't actually from this game, but what are you gonna do?
Yes I'm ba-a-a-ack in bla-a-a-ack...

This game started out looking like quite the pitchers' duel. Both Steve Trachsel and Russ Ortiz shut the opposition down early. It wasn't until the fifth inning that Javy Lopez put the first run on the board with a solo home run.

But the Mets responded with a vengeance. After Trachsel grounded out to lead off the top of the sixth inning, Roger Cedeno hit his second double of the game (seriously) and scored when Ty Wigginton followed with a two-bagger of his own. Roberto Alomar then singled, and Wigginton plowed into Lopez, who had failed to come up with the ball at home plate, for the second run of the inning putting the Mets on top. Cliff Floyd was intentionally walked, but Jason Phillips managed to draw a walk of his own to load the bases for Jeromy Burnitz. Burnitz was exactly a month removed from being sent to the disabled list after breaking his hand and after reluctantly playing three minor league rehab games, having hit a three run homer yesterday, he started in center field for the first time this season. And in his third at bat of the evening, he hit a long drive the other way, putting it over the 380 sign in left field for a grand slam. Four games into this twelve game run against two big division rivals, and the Mets are averaging six runs per game. One would hope that that would be enough to get a win more often than not.

Trachsel tried to hold on to the lead, but it very quickly began to slip away. A single. A walk. A pair of outs. And then another walk. And then, sadly, another walk. Trachsel had walked in a run and thus began another walk, this one toward the dugout. The bases were loaded in an ever-tightening game against the best team in baseball. So of course Art Howe brings in Pedro Feliciano. He promptly gave up a two run single to cut the Mets' lead to 6-4. Feliciano was taken out and Pat Strange brought in. It started out like your standard long, Strange trip, as he walked the first batter he faced, but he got a strikeout to end the inning without allowing anymore runs.

In the top of the seventh, Roger Cedeno played the role of Roger Cedeno, instead of that other guy who'd been hitting doubles early in the game. He walked to lead off the inning and then got picked off. I think it would be best if from now he just stand on the base until somebody hits the ball. In fact, maybe he should sit on the base so there's no chance of him tripping over it and falling on his face to be tagged out.

In the bottom of the seventh, Strange was back and giving up a home run to Gary Sheffield to narrow the Mets' lead to one. But he got the rest of the heart of the Atlanta order in order to escape without any more damage and hand it over to David Weathers. Weathers gave up a leadoff double to Lopez in the eight, but retired the next three batters to preserve the lead for Armando Benitez. Also in the eighth, Howe made several defensive changes, putting Raul Gonzalez in left, Tsuyoshi Shinjo in center and Tony Clark at first. This would be one of those wacky times when a late-game managerial decision by Howe not only looked good at the time he made it, but worked out in the end as well.

In the ninth, Benitez was scheduled to face the heart of the Braves' offensive machine. He struck out Marcus Giles to start the inning and then got Sheffield to ground out. But then the wheels started to fall off of the wagon. He walked both of the Joneses, putting two on with two outs for the ageless Julio Franco. Franco lined a single into center and Larry "Chipper" Jones headed for home. But the late inning defensive changes worked out, as Shinjo nailed him at the plate by a wide margin to finish off the game and save the win for Trachsel and the save for Benitez.

Tomorrow, Tom Glavine (5-3, 3.41) faces his old team for the first time. It would be a really fun matchup if he were going up against Greg Maddux (3-5, 5.54), but no. It'll be Horacio Ramirez (3-2, 3.94) on the mound for the Braves as the Mets try to continue their winning ways against the class of the NL East.

FINALLY~! If there are any wrestling aficianados still reading this page, expect some sort of review of this match soon. Also, buy things from Alfredo, becuase he is apparently cooler than all other tape dealers.
Thursday, May 22, 2003

Mets 6, Phillies 3

So far, so good. Five games into the Mike Piazza-less segment of the 2003 season, and one series into the two weeks that will decide whether we gotta believe or we gotta trade all the guys who'll be free agents at the end of the year, the Mets are on the right track. They're 4-1 without Piazza and took two out of three in the first series of the year against the Phillies before heading to Atlanta for the weekend. Rumors that the ghost of Patrick Ewing is inhabiting Shea Stadium are unconfirmed.

The Mets once again got off to a good start, and it was they who would theoretically be on the trading block if things don't go well that got things started. Roger Cedeno doubled to lead off the game. After New Guy Jeff Duncan bunted his way on and advanced to second on a passed ball, Roberto Alomar hit a sacrifice fly to score Cedeno. Cliff Floyd followed with an RBI ground out to score Duncan.

Pedro Astacio had a start not unlike Al Leiter's last night, somewhere between adequate and a struggle. He went six innings on 114 pitches, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three. The runs were scored in the second and third innigns, putting the Mets in a 3-2 hole. But Floyd followed in the bottom of the third with his tenth home run of the season and third in as many days. He still can't really run, and got booed for failing to run out a grounded that got bobbled in his first at bat, but he's done a good job picking up some of the offensive slack in Piazza's absence so far.

Jason Phillips is doing his part as well, as he went three for four with a pair of doubles today, but neither scored nor drove in a run. He led off the sixth with a single but was erased when Ty Wigginton grounded into a double play. But with two outs, Vance Wilson singled and Joe McEwing walked. Timo Perez pinch hit for Astacio and doubled to the gap in left center to drive them both home and put the Mets back on top. Phillips narrowly avoided being part of another run in the eighth when he led off with a double. Jae Seo pinch ran for him and scored when Wigginton's attempted sacrifice bunt got thrown into right field.

The bullpen also did the job today, pitching three perfect innings to ice the series win. David Weathers went two innings, striking out two and Armando Benitez struck out two in the ninth for his thirteenth save of the season.

Tomorrow, the even bigger series in Atlanta starts, with a href="">Steve Trachsel (2-2, 4.50) going for the Mets and Russ Ortiz (6-2, 3.18) for the Braves.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Mets 5, Phillies 4

Yesterday, every New York paper had a story about how the next twelve games, all against the Phillies and Braves, would decide the fate of this season. If they went well, management would keep believing this was a team that could compete. If they went like the first forty-four games of the season had, Steve Phillips would have to get his resume in order. So on night one of this fateful fortnight, the bullpen blew a good start by Jae Seo in spectacular fashion on the way to an 11-7 loss.

The Mets got off to a decent start tonight as Roberto Alomar doubled to lead off the game and later scored when Jason Phillips grounded into a double play. Tsuyoshi Shinjo upped the Met lead to 2-0 with his first home run of the season to lead off the third.

Meanwhile, Al Leiter was getting the job done on the mound adequately enough. He managed to give up a hit and three walks in the first inning without it adding up to a run and then settled down somewhat over the next few innings. But in the sixth, it was more of the hitting and the walking and not so much of the hitting into double plays and soon the Phillies had put three runs on the board. Leiter got himself one of those Quality Starts, with six innings and three runs on five hits and six walks, striking out six, but he also looked to be on the way to a big fat L if the offense couldn't pick him up while at the same time the bullpen failed to implode.

Well, the second part of that didn't start out too well, as Mike Stanton pitched the seventh, giving up a run on two hits and a walk while striking out one. But then, slowly, the Met offense began to rear its ugly head. Vance Wilson singled. Shinjo singled as well. And then Alomar loaded the bases with an infield single, bringing Tony Clark to the plate to pinch hit for Stanton with two outs. Clark started off the season with some clutch hits off of the bench, but when he was thrust into the job of starting first baseman, he crumbled. Tonight, back in the role of the pinch hitter, he got the job done, drawing a walk to force in a run.

Graeme Lloyd pitched a scoreless eighth, giving up one hit and striking out one. Prior to this game, the Phillies were 25-0 when leading after six innings. And the Mets were 0-18 when trailing after seven. The fact that they've got 26 losses and in only 18 of them were they trailing after seven tells you something about the performance of the bullpen, but I digress. Streaks like those have to come to an end at some point, and tonight it was Cliff Floyd who got the ball rolling in earnest, leading off the eighth with his ninth home run of the season to tie the game.

In the ninth, Armando Benitez made a rare non-save situation appearance and retired the Phillies in order. And in the bottom of the inning, Marco Scutaro, who apparently can play shortstop (so why isn't he starting there?) led off the inning with a single and moved to second on an Alomar ground out. And then it was time for non-starter Tony Clark again and he did what he does, lining the ball into the gap in right center to score Scutaro and win the game. Benitez got his first win of the season without even having to blow a save to set it up.

Tomorrow, the Mets try to get this twelve game trial by fire going in the right direction with a series win, sending Pedro Astacio (2-1, 6.75) to face off against Vincente Padilla (3-5, 4.23) in an unusual Thursday afternoon game.
Monday, May 19, 2003

I've just added a link to Baseball News Blog which, unbeknownst to me, added a link to my site at some point under the "Team-Specific Weblogs" heading. It's nice to see my silly title among the more traditional baseball-related site names. It also makes me think one of these days maybe I should seperate the baseball content from the wrestling content and start a new blog. I probably won't, as it just wouldn't be Betty's No Good Clothes Shop And Pancake House without wildly incongruous subject matter. But if the world of wrestling ever presents me with interesting subject matter again, I'll be sure to consider it for a minute or two.

On a related note, I've also added Shea Daily, a more standard Mets blog.

Mets 5, Giants 1

You see? If the Mets continue to get pitching like this, losing that Piazza won't be such a big deal. Tom Glavine flirted with the first complete game of the season by a Mets starter today before succumbing to Art Howe's endless bullpen love. Glavine pitched 8 1/3 innings, not giving up a run until the ninth inning. He threw just 89 pitches, giving up six hits and one walk while striking out four. Before this weekend, the Mets hadn't had a single starter pitch eight innings, but now they've got two and a series split with one of the best teams in the game.

Jason Phillips continued to argue that he should've gotten consistent playing time before now, going two for three with a walk and a two run homer. He also played a solid first base for the second straight day. The Mets continued to do a good job drawing walks, drawing eight, which matched their hit total on the day. Even Roger Cedeno got in on the act. He was bizarrely in the leadoff spot, but he got on base three times with two walks and a single in five plate appearances. Fortunately for his reputation of ineptitude, he managed to get picked off at first once and thrown out at home trying to score from second on an infield hit. Raul Gonzalez and Cliff Floyd each also had two walks.

The brand spanking new Mets lineup heads home for a big series against the Phillies starting Tuesday. Jae Seo (1-2, 3.69) takes on Brett Myers (3-3, 3.21) in the opener.
Saturday, May 17, 2003

Mets 5, Giants 1

By now you've probably heard about the injury to Mike Piazza. It's still being called a "strained right groin" but the latest word is that he's likely to miss "a significant amount of time." This is of course a devestating blow to the ineffectual Mets' offense. Aside from being the biggest name in the Mets' lineup, Piazza had also been by far the best hitter on the team so far this year. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the league lead, he would be in the top ten in the NL in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage at .333/.422/.613 for a 1.034 OPS. The next highest OPS on the team is the .878 belonging to Jeromy Burnitz, who will apparently return from breaking his hand on Tuesday. We Met fans may have to rely on The Ewing Theory for a little peace of mind.

The Mets called up catcher Jason Phillips from Norfolk again, where he was hitting .346/.435/.564 with 4 home runs and 20 RBI. And in a really smart and unexpected move, he started today at first base while Vance Wilson was once again behind the plate. Tony Clark has not worked out at all as a starter at first base and seems much more useful coming off of the bench, so I hope Art Howe will continue to try to get Wilson's defense and Phillips' bat into games. Phillips went two for five with an RBI single in the ninth. Wilson had a walk in four plate appearances.

The Mets lineup in general was refreshingly youthful today, as the first three batters were second baseman Marco Scutaro, right fielder Raul Gonzalez and Phillips. Scutaro went one for three with a walk and a run and played solid defense at second. I would hope that when Roberto Alomar returns to his post at second, presumably tomorrow, Howe will find a way to get Scutaro in the game somehow. I don't know if he can play shorstop, but if he can, I'd much rather see him out there than Joe McEwing. Cliff Floyd delivered the big blow of the game with a two run home run in the fifth, his seventh of the season.

And on the mound Steve Trachsel gave the Mets a terrific performance, going eight innings, the longest start by any Met pitcher this year, giving up just the one run on four hits and one walk while striking out three. He only threw 93 pitched, and I would have liked to see him get a shot at the complete game, but Armando Benitez came in for the ninth after Trachsel had been pinch hit for during the Mets' ninth innning rally. Benitez gave up one dubious hit that would have been an out had anyone other than Roger Cedeno been playing right field and struck out one. Trachsel is now 2-2 with 4.50 ERA.

Tomorrow, the Mets try to earn a split against the defending NL Champs before heading home. Tom Glavine (4-3, 3.76) goes for the Mets after having a decent start blown by the bullpen in Colorado. He will be opposed by Young Kurt Ainsworth (3-3, 4.56). Hopefully the Mets' lineup will resemble today's youth movement somewhat.


(Elaboration later, probably.)
Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Rockies 9, Mets 8

Coors Field. No sir, I don't like it. The Mets got Tom Glavine a 7-0 lead. He left the game having only surrendered three runs despite giving up nine hits and three walks in six innings while striking out four. The bullpen couldn't hold the lead and pretty soon it was 9-8 heading to the ninth inning. These kind of things, they don't happen in normal ballparks. Well they do, but they seem unusual when they happen. In Denver it's just another day at the freak show.

Mike Piazza hit two home runs and walk for three runs and three RBI. Roberto Alomar had three hits, including a double, and walk, scoring once and driving in one as well. Ty Wigginton had three hits including another triple and three RBI. Glavine, Roger Cedeno and Tony Clark all had doubles. And yet, the Mets lost.

Every time the Mets get themselves a modest winning streak going, they manage to blow it in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. Hopefully they'll be able to pick up the pieces tomorrow before heading to San Francisco for the weekend. Jae Seo (1-2, 3.43) takes on Darren Oliver (1-2, 5.79).
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Ough, Cox combine on no-hitter for St. Lucie Mets

On Saturday, Wayne Ough and Mike Cox combined on a no-hitter for the A+ level St. Lucie Mets against the Tampa Yankees (ha!). I have never heard of Ough and all I know of Cox is that last year he had some outrageous walk and strikeouts rates. In 64 IP, he walked 65 and struck out 103. Good to see he had enough control to go two perfect innings in this game.

Mets 9, Rockies 6

It wasn't Steve Trachsel's prettiest start of the season, but he once again pitched well enough to give his team a chance to win, and this time it paid off in the W column for him. Trachsel went six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. Those kind of numbers would have guaranteed him a loss in any of his recent starts given the paltry run support he's been getting. But tonight, the struggling New York offense managed to take some advantage of the thin Denver air and put nine runs on the board on eleven hits and five walks to get him a win.

Cliff Floyd was the offensive star for the Mets, hitting a pair of doulbes and a home run in five at bats, driving in four. Roberto Alomar managed to get one over the wall as well, but it was definitely a Coors Field kind of home run. Alomar also had a pair of walks and scored twice. Mike Piazza looked to be struggling somewhat at the plate, but still managed to produce three singles in four at bats, as well as getting hit by a pitch, raising his average to .310. Ty Wigginton only managed one hit in five at bats, but it was a triple with the bases loaded. And Joe McEwing continued to inexplicably get on base and play good defense at shortstop, going two for five and initiating a nice double play late in the game.

It was mostly the same old bullpen for the Mets and Mike Stanton gave up a pair of runs in two thirds of an inning, although one of those was a runner inherited by David Weathers scoring when Weathers failed to make a play on an easy chopper with the bases loaded. He seemed to lose it in the lights and completely missed it. Graeme Lloyd did manage to get in his second straight game and got two outs in two tries.

I was somewhat nervous about Armando Benitez appearing in this game. I mean, more than the standard Benitez-induced nervousness. I didn't think he and his propensity for giving up long fly balls would work out well in the thin air, but he got the job done tonight. He pitched a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout for his twelfth save of the season.

Are the 17-21 Mets out of their rut and back into the groove? Tomorrow, Tom Glavine (4-3, 3.67), in the unfamiliar position of starting in the midst of a winning streak, will try to keep it going against Shawn Chacon (4-2, 2.96) while the Met offense tries to keep rolling.
Sunday, May 11, 2003

Mets 3, Padres 2

Second verse, same as the first. The Mets got another very good starting pitching performance, this time out of Pedro Astacio, who has rebounded nicely from his disastrous second start of the season. Astacio went six innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. But after ninety-nine pitches, he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth with the game tied at 2. The Met offense had once again only managed to put up a pair of runs for its starting pitcher, one on Cliff Floyd's fifth home run of the season and another on a single by Timo Perez that scored Jay Bell.

But in the sixth, after Astacio was taken out of the game, and opportunity to score a run did present itself. With two outs, pinch hitter Raul Gonzalez took a walk in Astacio's place, giving Roberto Alomar a chance to extend the inning and perhaps give Astacio a chance to earn the win. So what does Alomar do? He bunts for a base hit, passing the buck and leaving the RBI opportunity in the hands of Bell. Now Bell had himself a nice game, hitting a single and walking twice in four plate appearances, but Alomar, in the leadoff hole or not, is supposed to be a run producer for this team. He, more than Jay Bell, is supposed to be one of the guys who can be counted on to get some extra base hits and perhaps drive in a runner from first. But this play was representative of the style of play Alomar has adopted with the Mets. He's generally uninspired, often downright lazy and never willing to assume a leadership role or take any risks, unless it's the risk of injuring his hand on a stupid headfirst slide into first base. He shows flashes of being able to hit like he once did, and 2 for 5 today looks good in a box score, but he in no way resembles the future Hall of Famer that baseball fans got to know in Toronto and Cleveland. Bell ended ths sixth by popping out to the first baseman.

After the sixth it was of course time to go to the bullpen and Art Howe finally deviated from his normal favorites and gave Graeme Lloyd a shot. Despite pitching effectively in almost all of his appearances this season, Lloyd had pitched only once in the last ten days before this game. Hopefully he made an impression on Howe today with two perfect innings and three strikeouts.

And Lloyd got the win as well, thanks to some offensive help from the unlikeliest of sources. (Well, the unlikeliest now that Mo Vaughn's on the DL, anyway.) With one out in the eighth inning, Roger Cedeno tripled to the gap in right center and scored on a wild pitch to give the Mets the lead. I don't mean to alarm you, but Cedeno hit .375 over his last ten games (9 for 24) with a couple of walks as well (OBP .423). The triple is the only extra base hit among the nine, but still, he's getting on base at a useful rate. In fact, in the last three years, Cedeno has hit .184 in April but .313 in May, so perhaps we're in for a month of productiveness from him.

Armando Benitez made it difficult as always in the ninth, but got the job done for his eleventh save of the season. Still, I'm somewhat concerned about his velocity and strikeout rate. Today he got three outs without any of them being via the K, and never broke 90 mph on the radar gun. He's been effective in recent weeks, so perhaps he's just finding new ways to get guys out given the decline in his velocity, but for a guy who's known for blowing batters away with heat, the 8.41 K/9 IP rate so far this year is fairly troubling. This is also the fourth consecutive year his K/9 rate has declined. In his first year with the Mets, 1999, he was at an astounding 14.77, the highest of his career, but since then it's been 12.55, 10.97, 10.56 and now 8.41. I don't know how to explain the drop in velocity and strikeouts given that he's only 30 years old, and if he keeps getting the saves I'll live with it, but I definitely think the Mets should let him find employment elsewhere in the offseason when his contract is up, if they don't trade him before that. A pitcher with declining velocity and strikeouts who only pitches seventy innings a year is not worth the kind of money he's likely to be asking for.

Tomorrow, the Mets try to get their bats going in the thin air of Coors Field against the Rockies. Steve Trachsel (a deceptive 0-2, 4.95) takes the mound for the Mets against Nelson Cruz (3-3, 6.94) for the Rockies.

Bret Hart on the Jericho/Goldberg fight

An excerpt: "Goldberg's wrestling ability often resembled the gorilla in those old Samsonite luggage commercials. He had a tendency to injure everybody he worked with and took his own publicity a little too seriously."
Saturday, May 10, 2003

Mets 4, Padres 2

It's almost like there's some kind of curse over Shea Stadium that causes hitters with first-class major league resumes to forget how to hit when they show up. I know it's always been a pitcher's park, but it's more than that. It happened to Roberto Alomar. It happened to Mo Vaughn. Jeromy Burnitz fought futilely against it last year and when he started to make some headway this year, he wound up with a broken hand. And Cliff Floyd's struggles this year are among the most baffling examples. Even Mike Piazza's fallen victim to it this year, as it's seemed like all of his extra base hits have been carefully positioned to occur with no one on base.

The Mets' dismal hitting has been costing their starting pitchers wins left and right this week, turning good starts from Steve Trachsel, Tom Glavine and Jae Seo into big fat Ls. Today, Al Leiter went out and gave the Mets another good performance in search of his fifth win on the season. He gave up just two runs in seven innings, giving up just four hits as well as four walks and striking out three. But the Met offense also struggled to get two runs during those seven innings, so Leiter wound up with a no decision. Raul Gonzalez drove in one run with a double and Cliff Floyd another with a sacrifice fly. Piazza hit a double with no one on.

Thankfully for the Mets, the bullpen was able to hold the Expos scoreless in the eighth and ninth to send the game into extra innings. Scott Strickland got a couple of outs before leaving with a groin strain. Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, giving up one hit and striking out two. The Mets were unable to score in those two innings either, though, so the game moved into extra innings.

Mike Stanton and his apparently bionic arm came in in to pitch the tenth. He gave up a pair of walks and hit, but managed to not allow those to add up to a run and the game was still tied as it headed to the bottom of the tenth.

The Padres had brought in Jaret Wright to pitch the ninth and he stayed on to pitch the tenth, having already given up two hits. Jay Bell led off with a single and it was another clutch opportunity for Piazza. Starting the day on the tenth of May, he had just three home runs and, even more mind-bogglingly, six RBI. The first fastball from Wright was high and inside and Piazza backed up and laid off. The next one wound up in a more palatable position over the plate for Piazza, who escorted it to an even nicer spot, that of the left field bleachers.

The Mets' record now stands at 15-21 and they'll hope to finish off the homestand on a high note tomorrow as Pedro Astacio (2-1, 7.31) takes on young Jake Peavy (4-3, 4.46) before they try to bring their bats to life with a trip to Coors Field on Monday.
Thursday, May 08, 2003

Taue sez: 'You are neither as goofy-looking nor as awesome as me!'
Happy 42nd birthday to Akira Taue!
Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Dodgers 2, Mets 1

Steve Trachsel continues to have some pretty rotten luck. Before I elaborate, let me just say that it's rather difficult to find Run Support numbers on the internet. will give me the league leaders, but if I want anyone else, I'm apparently out of luck. So, I'm going to have to improvise. Trachsel has started seven games and his record stands at just 0-2 after tonight. Maybe it'd be easiest if I make a chart, so here goes. The following chart displays the number of runs the Mets scored, the number of runs Trachsel gave up, the number of runs the bullpen gave up and the result for each game started by Trachsel. (My chart sucks, but I can't figure out how to fix it with this goofy Blogger pseudo-HTML, so just scroll down ya lazy bastard.)

Date Mets Runs Trachsel Runs Bullpen Runs Result
4/3 3 5 1 L 6-3 (Trachsel 0-1)
4/9 2 1 2 L 3-2 (Mike
4/14 3 3 2 L 5-3 (Scott
4/19 5 4 2 L 6-5 (Armando
4/25 4 3 0 W 4-3 (Stanton 1-2)
5/1 5 5 1 L 6-5 (Strickland 0-2)
5/7 1 2 0 L 2-1 (Trachsel)

So the Mets have scored an average of 3.28 runs per Trachsel start. I think the actual "Run Support" statistic factors in IP and when the runs were scored, so it's probably a bit higher, as is Trachsel's ERA, due to his not having pitched more than six innings before tonight. Add to that the fact that Mets relievers have ten decisions this year and five of them have occurred in games started by Trachsel, and you've got a guy whose record should look a little better than 0-2. Baseball Prospectus' 'Support Neutral Win-Loss' stats had him at (1.3-2.8) prior to this game, and I would imagine this performance would inch him closer to Support Neutral .500.

The Mets scored their run in the first inning when Roberto Alomar led off with a double and later scored when Cliff Floyd grounded into a double play. Hideo Nomo shut them down the rest of the way, giving up just 3 hits and four walks before the bullpen finished off the last 1 2/3 innings.

Tomorrow, Tom Glavine tries to save the day yet again, going for his fifth win of the season against Kaz Ishii.

Mets 3, Dodgers 2

Rey Sanchez got his hair cut. Mike Piazza got a mole cut. And Mo Vaughn apparently isn't going to get his knees cut. But with all the controversy and silliness swirling around Shea Stadium today, they did manage to find time to squeeze in a baseball game.

Since coming off of the disabled list, Pedro Astacio has given the Mets one excellent start and one horrible start so tonight would be a chance to perhaps see if the real third starter would please stand up. I was only watching bits and pieces of this game, switching back and forth during commercial breaks of Buffy and 24, but it appears from the box score that tonight we got First Start Astacio, a close relative of First Half 2002 Astacio, so all was well. The Mets are going to need him, or someone else, to be a quality number three behind the big two if they're going to climb out of the cellar. Astacio went the standard Art Howe six innings on 89 pitches, giving up a pair of runs on four hits and three walks, striking out five. The usual four relievers combined to finish off the final three innings, with Armando Benitez pitching a perfect ninth for his tenth save of the season, and his second in one-run games.

And offensively, Rey Sanchez tried to clear his name and make people forget about the length of his hair and, oh yeah, his sub-.200 batting average. Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who had three hits in four at bats, doubled with two outs in the second inning and Sanchez followed up with a triple to center field to drive in the Mets' first run of the game. Sanchez went two for three on the game with a rare walk as well. With Mike Piazza out of the lineup, playing neither catcher nor the rumored first base, that meant Tony Clark and Vance Wilson, and they both continued to come through when called upon, as they hit back to back homers in the fourth to put the Mets on top for good. Vaughn's six homers lead the team, despite his ranking only tenth in at bats, and Wilson now has three, as many as Piazza but in fifty fewer at bats.

The Mets try to run their modest winning streak to three tomorrow as Steve Trachsel (0-1, 5.45) takes the mound against former Met Hideo Nomo (3-4, 3.44).
Monday, May 05, 2003

Mets 5, Brewers 3

Today was an excellent example of how much of a difference a hit or two in a clutch situation can make. The Mets came into this game batting .228 with runners in scoring position. While this isn't all that much lower than their league-low overall average, there have been several close games where they were just a clutch hit or two away from winning. Despite their poor hitting, the Mets have had numerous situations with runners on base or in scoring position where they just did not come through. That they've drawn walks well enough to be in the middle of the league in that category is in part to thank for this. And with a few hits in key situations, the team's record could look very different.

Today, the Mets continued to struggle with the bats early, getting only one hit before the sixth inning, at which point they trailed 2-0. Roberto Alomar then led off the sixth with a single and then stole second base. The Mets did continue to draw their share of walks in this game, and Roger Cedeno and Mike Piazza got on via the free pass to load the bases for cleanup hitter Cliff Floyd. This game wouldn't have stood out much from many games the Mets have played this year if they managed to squander this opportunity and score just a run or even none. But this time around, they got the clutch hit as Floyd lined the ball over the right center field wall for a grand slam to put the Mets on top, 4-2.

The bottom half of the inning started out as a carbon copy of the top half with a single, a stolen base and a walk, but Al Leiter was sharp today and managed to limit the damage to only one run, and that was scored on a throwing error by Piazza trying to cut down a base stealer at third. The Mets were still ahead, 4-3.

One run hasn't been a very secure lead for the Met bullpen so far this year, but David Weathers continued to play the role of Iron Man, getting two outs in the eighth, only allowing a baserunner on a hit by pitch after getting the loss yesterday. Howe didn't stay with him too long, though as Mike Stanton got the final out of the seventh and the first of the eighth on a pair of strikeouts before giving way to Scott Strickland.

In the meantime, the Mets had loaded the bases again in the top of the eighth with a Piazza double and walks to Floyd and Ty Wigginton. Tsuyoshi Shinjo was brought in to pinch run for Piazza. Nobody came through with a big hit exactly, but Timo Perez managed to avoid swinging at four balls to earn a bases loaded walk, giving the Mets an insurance run. Joe McEwing, who probablyl earned a spot of the team for the rest of the season with his near-grand slam 2 RBI double on Thursday, returned to his normal levels of production, grounding into an inning-ending double play.

Howe continued to use his bullpen creatively in the eighth after Strickland got one out and gave up one hit, as he brought in Armando Benitez to get the final out of the eighth. He struck out Geoff Jenkins. This rare eighth inning appearance led to an even rarer sight, that of Benitez in the batter's box to lead off the ninth. In what was the seventh at bat of his career, he struck out to the amusement of his teammates, but he still looked like he could handle the bat better than Al Leiter, who earlier in the game was pinch hit for so Jay Bell could lay down a sacrifice bunt. In the bottom of the ninth, Benitez went back up to higher ground where he's slightly more comfortable and got the final three outs giving up just a walk for his ninth save of the season. Leiter's six inning, three run, four hit performance earned him his fourth win in five decisions. And the Mets managed to put five runs on the board with only five hits, thanks two seven walks and one timely bomb.

Tomorrow the Mets have the day off before the Dodgers come to town.

In an encouraging minor league development, Aaron Heilman pitched seven scoreless innings for the AAA Norfolk Tides to earn his fourth win of the year. He struck out four while walking just one and gave up just three hits. If Pedro Astacio continues to struggle like he did in his last start, I hope the Mets won't hesitate to call up the 24 year old Heilman to take his place in the rotation. Also in that game, 19 Year Old Shortstop Of The Future
Jose Reyes went one for four with a triple and a run.
Saturday, May 03, 2003

Speak of the devil. Mere minutes ago, I talked about Tony Clark deserving more playing time, and now the Mets have placed Mo Vaughn on the 15-day DL with an inflammation in his left knee. To fill Vaughn's roster spot, the Mets have called up catcher Jason Phillips from Norfolk, because apparently you can't have too many catchers. Phillips is hitting .327/.435/.558 at Norfolk with three doubles and three home runs. He's gone one for five with one walk at the major league level so far this year.

Brewers 3, Mets 2

Art Howe's bizarrely cautious use of his starting pitchers cost the Mets another game tonight. Jae Seo pitched excellently through six innings, giving up just two runs on two hits, striking out six and walking two. But in the bottom of the seventh, with no one on and two out, Howe felt it necessary to get Jay Bell's bat in the lineup, pinch hitting for Seo, who had only thrown ninety pitches to that point. The first run had scored in the fourth inning on a home run by Eric Young, his second long ball in as many nights and the first hit of the game for the Brewers to that point. In the sixth, Young got on again with a double, his and the team's second hit of the game. He advanced to third on a wild pinch and was pinch run for. The Mets pulled the infield in to try to preserve their one run lead and Seo got a grounder right to shortstop Rey Sanchez, but he bobbled the ball and was only able to get the out at first.

The next inning, Seo was gone and Howe continued his quest to have David Weathers pitch as often as is humanly possible. Weathers came in and gave up two hits and an intentional walk while recording just one out. Mike Stanton, who was perfect in two innings yesterday, got the next two outs, but the first of them was a sacrifice fly by Brady Clark to put the Brewers on top.

And then in the eighth, the Mets' offensive difficulty in clutch situations continued, as Mike Piazza came up with runners on first and second and no outs only to ground into a double play. Cliff Floyd then struck out to end the threat. The Mets were then able to load the bases in the ninth, but Raul Gonzalez, who entered the game in a smart double switch by Howe, grounded into a double play of his own to end the game. So Jae Seo had a healthy arm and a no decision while the Mets lost to the worst team in the National League.

Tony Clark continues to lobby for more starts as he hit a long solo home run starting in place of Mo Vaughn, who was out with knee-related troubles. The 455 foot bomb was Clark's team-leading fifth of the season in just 35 at bats. Ty Wigginton had another solid offensive game, with a triple, a single and a run in four at bats. Timo Perez had three singles, and Roger Cedeno is starting off May a lot better than he did April, as he had another two hits tonight. Roberto Alomar drew three walks in four plate appearances and also had a trifecta of sparkling defensive plays. It was the middle of the lineup that let the Mets down this time, as Piazza and Floyd, batting third and fourth, went hitless in seven at bats, with Piazza drawing a walk.

Tomorrow the Mets try to avoid another embarrassing series loss, sending Al Leiter (3-1, 3.19) to the mound against Matt Kinney (2-1 2.48) before heading home to start a series with the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Mets 9, Brewers 3

Well, look at that. The New York Mets won themselves a baseball game. They got some help early from some atrocious Milwaukee defense that helped put a run on the board in each of the first two innings. And Tom Glavine was on cruise control early, retiring the side on just nine pitches in each of the first two innings, which allowed the Mets to put the game out of reach early.

In the first two innings, the Mets got a lot of men on base, but weren't able to get more than one run in either opportunity. In the third, they were finally able to bust things open a bit. Mike Piazza walked and was driven in on Cliff Floyd's third home run of the season. Ty Wigginton doubled and later scored on a fielder's choice from Glavine that second baseman Eric Young booted for his second error of the game.

Piazza continued his hot hitting of the last couple of weeks, going two for four witha double, a walk, an RBI and two runs. The home runs and RBI are still proving elusive, but he's raised his average above .300 ater it fell below that mark last year for the first time since his rookie season. He's now hitting .308/.379/.500, which is much more respectable than his numbers from a fortnight past. Roberto Alomar busted out of a lengthy slump with a pair of hits, including one from the right side of the plate, where he's been just dreadful this season. Floyd had a double to go along with his home run. Wigginton was perhaps the biggest offensive star of the game, with four hits, including a pair of doubles, two runs and two RBI. He'd been in something of a slump as well, but raised his average to .286 tonight.

Hopefully the Mets can continue to pound away on the pathetic Brewers pitching and regain some confidence in time for their return home next week. Tomorrow, Jae Seo takes on Ruben Quevedo, who has apparently not started a game yet this year.
Thursday, May 01, 2003

Cardinals 6, Mets 5

Hey, I said I'd come back when they started playing like a major league team, not necessarily when they started winning. So the Mets got swept, but at least they put up a fight in this one. Starting pitching let the Mets down again as Steve Trachsel looked good for four innings before the hits started coming in bunches. And of course Scott Strickland proved ineffective in a clutch situation again, giving up the game winning home run in the tenth to Jim Edmonds. The Mets have played two extra inning games this year and today's 9 1/3 inning game is the longest their pitchers have gone.

The middle of the lineup (3-4-5) had another tough day today, going just 2 for 11, driving in one run and scoring another, but they did draw four walks. Mike Piazza still only has 5 RBI, but he has gotten his average up and is now hitting .297/.366/.486, which is quite an improvement over his stats from just a week ago. He's hit .538/.538/.769 over that period, although he only played in four games. But the bottom of the lineup came through in a big way, with Rey Sanchez returning to the lineup in a big way with a four hit game, scoring two runs. Roger Cedeno led off, but he feels more like a bottom-of-the-lineup hitter in spirit, and was in fact often batting with those guys on base. He collected two hits and a run, raising his average to a robust .218. And Joe McEwing, starting at second base in place of the slumping Roberto Alomar, had the big hit of the game, with a two run double that was inches away from being a game winning grand slam. In fact, "Super Joe" jumped in the air upon reaching first base, thinking the ball had gone over the wall.

In one encouraging development, Armando Benitez pitched two scoreless inning to maintain the tie. He got hit hard early in the eighth, but managed to work out of trouble and cruised through the ninth. The fact that he got six outs without registering a single strikeout is somewhat troubling, though.

The Met defense went error-free, although Cliff Floyd still can't move very well in left field, given the condition of his Achilles.

Tomorrow, the Mets start what should be an easier series, theading to Milwaukee to take on the hapless Brewers. Tom Glavine starts for the Mets, looking to rebound from his tough start on Sunday. The Brewers will send former Met Glendon Rusch tothe mound. Rusch is currently 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA.
Disseminating descriptions and accounts of New York Mets games without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball or the New York Mets since 2003.

Location: Hatboro, Pennsylvania, United States
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